Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waking up

We find ourselves this week in the continuation of the story of the Pandava brothers.  They have just lived out their 13th year in exile successfully in disguise, and awake on the last day to find that Duryodhana (their cousin and exil-er) has stolen all of King Virata’s cattle.  Arjuna decides to reveal himself to the king’s son Uttara to help him go fight Duryodhana to reclaim their cattle.  They set off to find Arjuna’s weapons which he hid in a tree outside the city.  Armed, they confront Duryodhana and his army soon after, and Arjun, instead of harming them calls down the “weapon of sleep”.  As the army sleeps, Arjun and Uttara free the cattle and send them back to the kingdom.  Duryodhana wakes to see Arjun and Uttara fleeing with the cattle back to safety.  He asks his brother Bhishma where his bow is, to which Bhishma answers “It is on the ground, as you might expect when you fall asleep during a battle.”

How often do we find ourselves in a situation and “wake up” and wonder how we ended up there?  It is so easy to fall asleep to our lives!  Sometimes it happens because there are situations and aspects of our lives that we don’t want to see.  Let’s face it, life is sometimes easier when we’re asleep!   We can also check out by simply taking things for granted.  When we moved here 2 years ago and my husband started with his new company, the owner told him that he wanted to meet with him weekly for the first year, not to check in on what Arjun (my husband, yes the same name as the hero in our story!) was doing, but so that he could give him an “outsider” perspective on how things were going.  Arjun could see things with fresh eyes and those meetings had profound affects for both him and the company. 

So why wake up?  Most times when we choose to be asleep (i.e. ignore) something that’s going on it’s because we’re hoping that it will go away.  But that rarely happens - most times we are just putting off something that is inevitable.  So when we choose to wake up and be aware we become co-participants with the Universe in creating the life we desire for ourselves. We put ourselves in the drivers seat, cruise control off.

When we practice yoga we realize that there are so many parts of our bodies that have been “asleep”.  In class this week we worked on Shin Loop and Ankle Loop, waking up parts of our bodies that we don’t often think about, and that often have a hard time engaging.  What I heard from my students in every class was, wow, that was hard, but old familiar poses felt totally different!  And many got into poses they hadn’t been able to before.   When we choose to wake up our awareness of ourselves deepens, and we wake up to the miracle and richness of our lives.  And if what we wake up to doesn’t feel like miracles and richness right off the bat, once we’re aware of whatever it is, we can choose to make a change in that direction.  It’s not easy. But it is totally worth it.

Off the mat practice: Take a moment to do a little inventory.  What have you been asleep to in your life?  Sometimes this is hard to see for ourselves, so ask trusted and loving friends to reflect back to you if you need help (like Arjun at his new company, they have “outside” perspective).  What have you been taking for granted (your job, spouse, kids, housekeeper, friend, your health, your pet, etc.)?   Choose to stay aware and honest with yourself this week.

On the mat:
Take an extra long savasana this week, and make a commitment to stay awake, aware and absolutely relaxed for the duration.

Open To Grace: Take a breath and wake up to this moment - not what happened earlier, not plans for later, right now.

Muscular Energy: Wake up the bones by hugging the muscles to them.
Feel every muscle in the body enlivened and aroused with the awareness of your highest consciousness.

Shin/Ankle Loop: Engage calf muscle and press it forward. As your calf muscle wakes up, feel yourself wake up to what you’ve been taking for granted in your life.
As you lift and spread your toes, spread your awareness to all aspects of your life, the good, the bad, the ugly. 

Organic Energy:  Send out blessings to those you’ve taken for granted.
Offer your light to dark places that are still asleep.

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